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Visas: Reimbursement Requirements for Foreign Visitors

See requirements for hosting a foreign visitor, including determining eligibility for reimbursement, determining travel status, and claiming expenses.

Before hosting foreign visitors

Make sure they have the proper visas. Foreign visitors are issued an I-94 (arrival/ departure card) showing their travel status, which determines eligibility for reimbursement. Visitors from participating countries traveling under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) on WB/WT status are not issued a paper 1-94, rather the WB/WT status is indicated on their passport. There are no exceptions to visa requirements, since making exceptions would put UCSD at risk of losing federal funding.

Note: For visitors from Canada, the I-94 is generally not required and B-1 status is implied.

Before arrival

  1. Determine the visa type required for reimbursing travel expenses.
  2. Determine the requirements to obtain the desired visa. See the UC San Diego International Faculty & Scholar Office for details
  3. Review Payments to Foreign Visitors to learn the difference between reimbursing travel and paying an honorarium, including tax implications.

After arrival

  1. Verify the visa type listed on the passport or I-94 and ensure it is appropriate for reimbursing travel expenses.
  2. Make a copy of the I-94 or passport pages showing the WB/WT status and traveler information.
  3. When creating a Travel Request in Concur, indicate the visa type and retain a copy of the passport pages or I-94 in your area.

Canadian visitors: I-94 is not required, indicate “Visitor from Canada with implied B-1 status” and keep a copy of the visitors Canadian residency or citizenship in your area.

Foreign visitors and visa considerations

A B-1 or WB visa is appropriate for planned business-related travel, for example, to consult with business associates, attend a scientific, educational, professional or business conference, settle an estate, or negotiate a contract. It is also appropriate for business travel to conduct independent research, to which the visitor will receive no salary/income from the hosting institution nor for which will there be any benefit to the hosting institution. Accordingly, A B-1 or WB visa is generally inadequate for a visiting scholar or graduate student. (The copyright and copyright rights to any published report or other materials produced by an independent consultant shall belong to the University, as set forth in the Independent Consultant Agreement Terms and Conditions, Article X.; however, the independent consultant may be listed as a "Consultant" in any published report or other materials.)  (See BFB-BUS-34: Securing the Services of Independent Consultants.)

A J-1 visa is required for any visitor to a U.S. academic institution who engages in a collaborative activity or research, and whose activity will benefit the hosting institution, particularly if that activity/ research will result in a future publication. Fellows also require a J-1 visa.

The issuing American Consulate or Embassy makes the final determination as to the appropriate visa required for the visit. Working closely with the issuing consulate or embassy may avoid unexpected delays if it is determined that the visit requires a J-1 instead of a B-1 visa type, for example.

The inviting department is responsible to ensure that the visitor arrives with the proper visa that supports the visit purpose and any intended payment/reimbursement.

Examples of purpose, visas, and eligibility for travel reimbursement

Sample purpose Visa requirements (if necessary) Eligible for Travel reimbursement (not tax reportable)
To share with UC San Diego techniques in XYZ B-1, WB, J-1 Yes
Speaker at UCSD’s ABC conference B-1, WB, J-1 Yes
Collaboration with PI Smith regarding XYZ J-1 Yes
To consult with UC San Diego subject matter experts with no benefit to UCSD B-1, WB No
To conduct independent research with no benefit to UC San Diego B-1, WB No
To provide a lecture on XYZ to UC San Diego medical students B-1, WB, J-1 Yes
To install and train on research equipment for PI Smith’s lab B-1, WB Yes
To consult with business associates as a subcontractor to UC San Diego B-1, WB Yes
To participant in a joint research project J-1 Yes
To volunteer in PI Smith’s lab J-1 Yes
To receive medical treatment at UCSD’s Medical Center B-2, WT No
To attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference B-1, WB Varies
To negotiate a subcontract award with PI Smith B-1, WB Yes
To visit the campus as a prospective graduate student or postdoc B-2, WT Yes

WB and WT notice: The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is limited to visitors arriving via sea or air from participating countries. Visitors entering by land border crossings (Mexico and Canada) are not eligible under VWP and are issued an I-94.

Other forms of payments may be involved, some of which may be tax reportable, subject to tax withholdings and subject to visa eligibility. Examples include honorariums, allowances (travel allowance and/or living allowance) and salary.


The US Department of State, U.S. Visas – Business and Pleasure (PDF)

The US Department of State, U.S. Visas Business Travel to the United States (PDF)

Find answers, request services, or get help from our team at the UC San Diego Services & Support portal.

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Notice: UC San Diego travel policy, as published in Blink, is decisive. It has been adapted to UC San Diego's organization, delegation of authority, terminology, chart of accounts and processing applications. The source for UC San Diego travel policy is UC Travel Policy and Regulations (PDF).